Community College Month shines a spotlight on the importance of KCTCS to Kentucky
Guaranteed access to affordable, high-quality higher education for all people is why community colleges were established. Community colleges, including the 16 colleges of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS), provide education to students with the fewest resources and most barriers. Yet, these students go on to great careers or achieve success at a university.
The 16 colleges of KCTCS:
- are Kentucky’s largest providers of higher education, workforce training, online learning and dual credit classes.
- are the most affordable path to work or to a bachelor’s degree.
- offer short-term programs that help people get to work quickly.
- are Kentucky’s primary educators of life-saving nurses and other health care professionals.
- train the most skilled trades workers in Kentucky.
- are number two in the nation in the number of credentials awarded by public, two-year colleges.
- had a record number of graduates last academic year in the middle of a pandemic.
April is Community College Month, which brings the good works of KCTCS colleges to the forefront. The primary goals of Community College Month, established by the American Association of Community College Trustees, are to improve awareness of the economic, academic and equity advantages of attending community colleges. Dedicating a month to community colleges and their students’ successes also helps shatter longtime stigmas wrongly associated with public two-year colleges.
During the last year as COVID changed the world, KCTCS students, faculty and staff had stellar results even though they had to adapt to remote learning and working. This was a challenge for some who had no broadband access, no computer or both. Some students completed coursework on their phones.
Several colleges received grants to purchase computers for their students and others loaned them used ones. The colleges also set up Wi-Fi hotspots in their parking lots and other areas. Because so many students and their families were unemployed and suffered from food insecurity, each college also provided food pantries.
Despite all of this, KCTCS had a record number of graduates receiving a record number of credentials.
KCTCS colleges played an integral role in their communities as well. As hospitals and other medical providers needed equipment for current or future patients, all 16 colleges stepped up to donate personal protective equipment along with beds and ventilators. Colleges use these items in nursing, respiratory therapy and other health care programs.
Additionally, colleges that offer 3D printing programs created faced shields for local hospitals staff.
“Community College Month is the one time each year that America focuses on the student success and good works of colleges in their communities,” KCTCS Interim President Paul Czarapata said. “Our mission is to improve the lives and employability of Kentuckians. It’s something we take very seriously and live every day. Our colleges’ response to the pandemic clearly shows this.”